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Invisible Disabilities

  • By: Margaret M. Quinlan
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

According to the 2002 U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 96 percent of individuals with a disability or illness live with one that is invisible. An invisible disability is defined as one that is unseen, hidden, concealed, or not immediately apparent so as to not be instantly observed by another, excluding under infrequent circumstances or by disclosure from persons. Invisible disabilities (IDs) such as anxiety disorders, attention deficits, autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, epilepsy, learning disabilities, HIV/AIDS, pain, psychiatric impairments, schizophrenia, seizure conditions, and Tourette's syndrome are not easily noticed. IDs can also include chronic illnesses and conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and sleep disorders if the condition significantly impacts daily life activities. As the number of individuals with IDs increases, the ...

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